10 South African English Slangs You Should Know

May 6, 2016

Yes, South Africans speak English and don’t even start with a question like “So if you’re from South Africa, why are you white?” on someone when it’s your first time in their country. South Africa has 11 official languages but English is the commonly spoken language throughout the country. Cool right? So what are some of the South African English slangs that you might encounter while visiting the country? Here’s 10 of them.

1. Braai

Photo Source : Neshika Thakurdin

Photo Source : Neshika Thakurdin

If it’s your first time in South Africa, be ready to be invited to a braai or backyard barbecue. Whatever the day, the occasion, or the weather is, no one can stop South Africans from having that good braai.

 

2. Ag Shame!

Photo Source : The Tiger-Club

Photo Source : The Tiger-Club

Ag when pronounced sounds like the “ach” in the German “achtung”. When combined with the word shame, the whole phrase “Ag shame” is equivalent to “Cute!” or “Horrible!” Kinda confusing right?

3. Izit?

Photo Credit: Giphy

Photo Credit: Giphy

Derived from the two words, “is” and “it”, the slang word “Izit?!” basically means “Really?!” or “Is that so?” It’s best used when you don’t have the slightest idea about what the other person is talking about.

4. Howzit?

Photo Source : Aquila

Photo Source : Aquila

The universal South African greeting “Howzit” which means “Hello” is often accompanied by a “Yes!” You can say “Yes, howzit?” where it can be answered with “No, fine.”

 

5. Now-now

Photo Source : Jordon Ng

Photo Source : Jordon Ng

Now-now means “in a bit” so you can use it in a sentence like, “I’ll be there now-now.”

6. Just Now

Photo Credit: Giphy

Photo Credit: Giphy

If there’s now-now, there’s also “just now” which can be a bit confusing because it means “in the near future”.

7. Vrot

Photo Credit: Giphy

Photo Credit: Giphy

Vrot, pronounced as “frot”, literally means “rotten” or “smelly” in Afrikaans. It can also be used when you want to describe something you really dislike. When you step out from the cinema and you hated the film you just watched, you can go on a rage and say “This movie is vrot!”

8. Robot

Photo Source :All4women

Photo Source :All4women

In South Africa, directional signs or people will tell you to go right or left from the “robot”. Don’t look for something like R2D2 because a “robot” is just the traffic light.

9. Jawelnofine

Photo Credit: Giphy

Photo Credit: Giphy

“Yes, well, no, fine”. Add them all together and you’ll get the word “Jawelnofine” which is an expression of surprise used when things aren’t going fine, but you can’t do anything about it. For example, you can say “Jawelnofine” when you just saw on the news that there’ll be product price hike.

10. Lekker

Photo Credit: Giphy

Photo Credit: Giphy

The braai was awesomely yummy. The movie was intense. The live concert was great. When any of your life events was unforgettably awesome, then you can say that they’re all “lekker”. No, to be precise it’s more like “lekk-errrrrrrr” with a good rolling r sound.